Female Executives Believe Time-Tested Parenting Skills Provide an Edge in the Workplace, According to Latest Korn/Ferry Survey

Korn/Ferry International
2012-06-07 05:54 1256

Despite Skills That Transfer to Their Professional Roles, Majority of Female Executives Say Having Children Has Hindered Their Career Growth

LOS ANGELES, June 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- According to the findings of an executive survey last month by the Korn/Ferry Institute, 95 percent of female professionals think raising children has provided them with unique skills portable to the workplace.  The top transferrable skills, according to the respondents, are motivating and inspiring others, learning agility (applying past experience in new ways) and confidence.

The study also highlighted the dramatic impact that technology is making on work-life balance in the context of parenting.  Nearly 80 percent of working women believe that technology has made it much easier to balance work and family by connecting them to the workplace whenever and wherever they are. 

"The findings show that parenthood offers a world of training in psychology, time management and diplomacy that can easily be applied to business," said Kathy Woods, senior partner at Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting, who is also a mother.  "And, technology is making it easier than ever for women to hold the dual roles of executive and parent." 

Despite technology's impact in helping parents manage the demands of children and work, and the advantages gained by skills transferrable to the workplace, about 45 percent of female corporate executives believe their career-growth prospects have been stymied "somewhat" by having children.  Another eight percent believe that motherhood has limited their career progression to a "great extent."

As further evidence of the challenge, 29 percent of the female respondents have either postponed (19 percent) or decided not to have children (10 percent) based on their careers, according to the survey.

The survey also found that female respondents were evenly split on whether a "glass ceiling" still exists that limits their career progression (27 percent said "yes;" 23 percent said "no;" and 50 percent said "maybe," depending on the company or industry). 

Despite the split in perspectives, women still hold fewer than 15 percent of corporate executive positions at organizations globally, according to Korn/Ferry data.  And a pay gap still exists across all levels of leadership, even among senior management posts. (Women earn 25 percent less than their male counterparts in the C-suite.)

Such disparities remain, even though female executives often possess unique and difficult-to-develop attributes.  According to past Korn/Ferry research, women executives tend to excel more than their male counterparts at being:

  • Integrative: the ability to process complex social information and inspire others.
  • Socially attuned: an ability to perceive subtle signals.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity: the skill to "wing it" and make "good-enough-for-now" decisions until more data are available.

The future may be brighter, according to the survey, which found that 86 percent of the respondents believe females graduating from college in 2025 will have more career-advancement opportunities than today's working mothers.


The Korn/Ferry Institute regularly conducts surveys to glean insights on the current workplace and leadership environment.  Results are based on surveys of executives globally registered with the firm's online Executive Center,  The survey was conducted in mid-May 2012.

About the Korn/Ferry Institute

The Korn/Ferry Institute serves as a premier global voice on a range of talent-management and leadership issues. The Institute commissions, originates and publishes groundbreaking research using Korn/Ferry's unparalleled expertise in executive recruitment and talent development combined with its preeminent behavioral research library. The Institute is dedicated to improving the state of global human capital for businesses of all sizes around the world.

About Korn/Ferry International

Korn/Ferry International is a premier global provider of talent management solutions, with a presence throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  The firm delivers services and solutions that help clients cultivate greatness through the attraction, engagement, development and retention of their talent. Visit for more information on Korn/Ferry International, and for thought leadership, intellectual property and research.

Source: Korn/Ferry International
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